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Men’s tennis falls on Senior Day

BY SETH ROBERTS | APRIL 26, 2010 7:30 AM

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Senior Day is meant to be a tribute to athletes who have been dedicated to a sport. But all the Iowa men’s tennis team will be talking about are its missed opportunities on Sunday.

Although the No. 59 Hawkeyes (12-9, 4-6) swept the doubles matches from No. 35 Minnesota (13-9, 6-4), they won only one singles match en route to a 5-2 defeat. The meet marked the last time seniors Patrick Dwyer, Reinoud Haal, and Tommy McGeorge will play at the Hawkeye Tennis & Recreation Complex.

“It was definitely cool to have coach [Steve Houghton] talking about us and having the team behind us,” said McGeorge, who finished his Hawkeye career with a .679 doubles winning percentage. “[The other seniors and I have] all been here for four years, and we’ve stuck with it and done a lot of good things.”

Good things were hard to come by on Sunday. The Hawkeyes failed to capitalize on three tightly contested singles matches.

Haal lost to Dino Bilankov in the No. 4 slot (6-4, 6-5), and McGeorge fell to Phillip Arndt, (4-6, , 6-4, 6-4 ) at No. 5.

Junior Austen Kauss couldn’t overcome the serve of freshman Brendan Ruddock, and he was often forced to play well behind the baseline in the 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 loss.

“A lot of their guys seemed to serve themselves out of trouble,” Houghton said. “We’re scrappy, feisty, and we refuse to miss, but Minnesota is good at that, and they have some guys with more firepower as well. We’re good at what we do, but bigger shots win out sometimes.”

Sophomore Will Vasos provided the Hawkeyes with their lone singles point by dispatching freshman Rok Bonin (6-3, 6-2) in a match that lasted only an hour. Vasos finished the regular season with a 14-8 record in singles, and he went 2-1 after a late-season promotion to the No. 3 position.

Iowa’s singles struggles came after dominating the Gophers in doubles. The No. 1 pairing of sophomore Marc Bruche and junior Nikita Zotov came from behind to upset Arndt and Sebastian Gallego, the No. 50-ranked team in the country, 8-7.

“I think Nik and I have shown that we can beat anyone,” Bruche said. “We’ve been playing solid doubles, and we’ve shown we belong and deserve to play the best teams in the conference.”

Vasos and McGeorge defeated Bilankov and Julian Dehn, 8-4, in No. 2, and the No. 3 team of Kauss and Haal overcame Bonin and Tobias Wernet, 8-4.

The match marked only the third time this season Kauss has played doubles, and Houghton said he was pleased with how the junior has performed despite being “thrown into the mix.”

“We changed teams a time or two this week, and I think we got the right doubles combination at the end,” Houghton said. “I thought going into the meet that if we won the doubles point, we would have a 50-50 shot at winning three singles matches.”

Iowa’s loss means the team finishes seventh in the Big Ten and will play unranked Purdue (11-14, 1-9) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday. Although the Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers, 4-3, on April 23, McGeorge said the team can’t afford to be overconfident.

“We have some confidence because we know we can beat them, but they’re a good team,” the senior said. “They have nothing to lose, so they’re going to be swinging loose. Anything can happen in the tournament.”


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